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F.W. Strange - The Founder

Frederick William Strange is considered the founder of collegiate rowing in Japan. It is thought he attended Eton, and possibly Cambridge or Oxford. Little is known about his life before he arrived in Yokohama in 1875 at the age of twenty. He was an English teacher at what became known as the University of Tokyo. Strange was heavily involved in athletics, and was mentioned many times in the Japan Weekly Mail (JWM). He was not known to row himself, but an article in the JWM praises him for being one of the best in the boat during an autumn regatta in 1877. A separate JWM article describes Strange as a crucial part of the athletic movement that led to the establishment of athletics at the University of Tokyo. In 1884, students asked Strange to help them and Strange lead one of two boats in the first-ever student boat race. At the suggestion of Strange, selected university students would be allowed to participate in a private boat club race held by Yokohama Athletic and Regatta Club (YARC). Strange took it upon himself to coach them; however, they lost. In 1886, the University of Tokyo Rowing Club was established. Members of surrounding university clubs thanked Strange and provided him with a gift as a token of their gratitude for his efforts in establishing organized rowing. Strange died in his house in 1889 at the age of thirty-five. Strange was not the first Englishman to start rowing in Japan, but he was the first to be an intermediary between British and Japanese oarsmen. The students at the University of Tokyo would not have been able to watch and then participate in races with the foreigners in Yokohama if it had not been for Strange. In return, the foreigners seemed to support Strange in his efforts to establish sport into the Japanese education system. It can therefore be concluded that Strange played a vital role in the development of Japanese sports (Kochi, 446-456).